A WAR of words has broken out after a backbench Tory councillor suggested a borough may need to privatise or close two of its three leisure centres to meet its cash gap.

Barrowford representative Cllr Ken Turner said only one of the fitness hubs in Nelson, Colne and Barnoldswick would be viable during a debate on their future at Tuesday’s full meeting of Pendle Council.

He said his personal view was a single new privately built and run super-centre in Colne could be the answer.

Labour opposition leader Cllr Mohammed Iqbal said Cllr Turner revealed the Conservatives’ secret agenda to shut at least two of the three leisure centres run by the council-subsidised Pendle Leisure Trust.

Cllr Paul White, leader of the ruling Tory group, accused his counterpart of ‘not telling the truth’ and spreading ‘fake news’.

Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr David Whipp moved a motion calling for the three centres to remain in public ownership and affordable for all.